Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboothiri, Who Passed Away On August 2, Lent Novelty To Negative Roles With His Popular Red Beard

As a Kathakali artiste, Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboothiri’s massive shining eyes had been his best asset. He knew it at the same time as a studentso did his guru Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair. Both of them labored in direction of turning this to his benefit.

By the early Nineteen Sixties, the viewers started to note how Nelliyode lent a contact of humour to even destructive and highly effective characters. With face painted primarily in purple or black and carrying giant headgear, the teenager entertained audiences throughout night-long exhibits.

Nelliyode was simply out of teenagers when he performed Bali at a temple competition in his guru’s native Vazhenkada in north-central Kerala, sporting a stylised crimson beard with broad white paper lower on the edges pasted on his cheeks. The chuvanna taadi (purple beard) drew appreciation and, ultimately, he gained reputation portraying characters with it.

A aptitude for improvisation based mostly on his deep studying added layers to the dancer’s portrayal of various characters comparable to Bali, Sugriva, Dusshasana, Trigarta and Narakasura. Simultaneously, he lent novelty to his presentation of demonesses comparable to Shurpanakha, Putana, Lankalakshmi and Nakratundi.

Nelliyode created masterpieces along with his efficiency of sure male characters like Sudama (Kuchelavrittam) and Asari (Bakavadham) in semi-realistic make-up. His craft was one in all fixed innovation over the grammatical framework of Kathakali’s Kalluvazhi college, which was majorly refined by Kunchu Nair’s tutor Pattikamthodi Ravunni Menon (1880-1948).

Nelliyode’s profession, spanning six many years, got here to an finish this month when he was identified with pancreatic most cancers.

Born into the Nelliyode household of clergymen at Cheranallur in Ernakulam district, the dancer had made Thiruvananthapuram his house from 1975, after touchdown a Kathakali teacher’s job on the Government Central High School there, from the place he retired after 20 years.

That aside, Nelliyode remained an unbiased performer, typically sharing a platform with artistes from Travancore to Malabar upward and throughout generations. He may simply mingle with practitioners of Kathakali’s southern type regardless that elaborate choreography was on the core of his coaching at Natyasanghom and Kalamandalam within the north. “Increasing interactions between artistes belonging to the two systems has standardised Kathakali movements,” he stated. “The process has its pros and cons.”

Nelliyode’s experiments raised the curiosity of critics. Some of them admitted they by no means knew chuvanna taadi characters had such potential for labyrinthine narrations. Partly, the tales got here as recapitulation, impressed by the nirvahanam approach employed in Koodiyattam. Nelliyode was a type of uncommon Kathakali experts who keenly adopted the traditional Sanskrit theatre.

The Twentieth-century chuvanna tadi icons, Vellinezhi Nanu Nair and Champakulam Pachu Pillai, impressed Nelliyode. “Their approach to the art contrasted fascinatingly. I imbibed a lot by observing them, but seldom imitated their mannerisms,” he stated. Nelliyode, recognized for his behavior of watching Kathakali from the greenroom, additionally loved trendy performs and poetry. “They give us ideas. And an attitude to associate with contemporary Kathakali productions.”

Over the years, Nelliyode gained the knowledge to generally infuse a delicate private contact to his gestural dialogues. Recalls Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanian, who acted as Krishna reverse Nelliyode as Kuchela early this 12 months at a efficiency, “ He asked me, ‘Will we meet again?’ Both of us got emotional.”

Recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Kathakali Puraskaram, Nelliyode stated, “You learn no art for mere livelihood. One thrives on passion.”


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